Owen Walsh

Owen Walsh


I have been at the University of Leeds since 2012. In 2015, I graduated with a BA in English and History having completed a research project which focused on Claude McKay. I completed an MA in Race and Resistance in 2016. My MA research looked at how and to what extent racial binaries were challenged in the work of Claude McKay and William Attaway. I began my PhD at Leeds in October 2016, and anticipate completing it in 2020.



(forthcoming) '"Betwixt and Between": The Black Internationalist Practice of Juanita Harrison', Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender, and the Black International


'When Black Cinema Went Soviet', History Workshop, 29/5/2019, http://www.historyworkshop.org.uk/when-black-cinema-went-soviet/

'Mexican Migration in the Fiction of William Attaway', US Studies Online, 22/4/2019, https://www.baas.ac.uk/usso/mexican-migration-in-the-fiction-of-william-attaway/


I am an editor for the UK Annual of Postgraduate Hip-Hop Studies, https://ukjhhs.wordpress.com/.

Conference papers

(invited talk) ‘Beyond the Black Atlantic: Re-mapping Black Internationalism during the 1930s’, Sheffield Modern International History Group, University of Sheffield, December 2019

‘Japanese State Surveillance and the Making of Black Radicalism in the 1930s’, HOTCUS PGR Conference, Rothermere Institute of the Americas, Unviersity of Oxford, October 2019 

(panel organiser) 'Juanita Harrison on Veiling and Communism: A Proletarian Black Woman Intervenes in Global Controversies', African-American Intellectual History Society conference, University of Michigan, March 2019

'American Imperialism in the Novels of William Attaway', BAAS PGR conference, Northumbria University, November 2018

'Racial Disidentification in the Travel Diary of Juanita Harrison', Society for the History of Women in the Americas Annual Conference, London School of Economics, June 2018

'The "English Inning" of Claude McKay, Transnational Writer and Socialist', What's Happening in Black British History VIII, University of Huddersfield, May 2018

'The Communist Politics and Primitivist Sensibilities of Claude McKay', The Red and the Black: The Russian Revolution and the Black Atlantic, University of Central Lancashire, October 2017


2019 HOTCUS Doctoral Travel Award

2018 BAAS Postgraduate Travel Award

2017, 2018, 2019 PGR Extraordinary Fund travel grant

2016 School of History and IMS PhD Scholarship

2016 Marion Sharples Prize for the best dissertation by a taught MA student in the School of History

Memberships and affiliations

British Association of American Studies (BAAS)

Historians of the Twentieth-Century United States (HoTCUS)

African-American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS)

Royal Historical Society (RHS)


I have experience teaching on the following modules:

HIST1055: Historiography and Historical Skills (strand title: The Red and the Black: African Americans and the Left in the Early Twentieth Century)

HIST1300: Primary Sources for the Historian (strand title: Claude McKay's A Long Way from Home)

HIST2442: Black Politics from Emancipation to Obama

Research interests

How does our view of Black internationalism change if we centre the West Coast of the American continent?

This is the principal question to which my research responds. In doing so, I situate the West in a transnational geography of race, bridging Paul Gilroy's conceptualisation of the Black Atlantic with new perspectives on westernness, frontiers, and the Black Pacific. The importance of the West Coast as a migratory route linking the US South, Mexico, and the Pacific Rim undergirds my understanding of it as a site of internationalist practice which troubles in unique ways the division between global internationalism and localised, domestic interracialism. 

My research focuses on the 1930s as a decade in which the meanings of Black internationalism and the American West were being widely contested, and in which numerous key African-American intellectuals were intervening into those discussions. The salience of communist models of internationalism (and the wider tradition of Black radicalism) features heavily in my research, and these are figured through cosmopolitan practitioners both renowned and obscure.

Activist-intellectuals of particular interest to me include Langston Hughes, Arna Bontemps, Juanita Harrison, and Loren Miller.


  • MA Race and Resistance (Distinction), 2016
  • BA English and History (First-class honours), 2015